Stories Hollywood Never Tells: Hollywood’s Hero

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It was over two decades ago that an accomplished television studio executive would cross paths with a 27-year-old waitress and cosmetologist.  It was not your typical LA meeting where someone polishes up for a casting interview and brings their headshot hoping to land a position or opportunity on a show in Hollywood.  Instead, she was struggling to survive and learned she would die without a bone marrow transplant.  Luckily, she had met Hollywood’s unsung hero, Joe Lucas, who underwent a painful surgery to save a stranger’s life.  Today, he is not only a hero for this woman whose life he saved but is also one for CBS Television Studios where he has been a valuable asset for the past 43 years.

Joe Lucas is the executive vice president, international television, for CBS Television Studios.  The Villanova on Set cohort was fortunate to spend an evening at dinner with Joe at the famous Mel’s drive-in diner on Sunset Boulevard.  Receiving a bachelor’s in accounting, Joe started his career after graduating from Villanova in the 70’s.  Referring to “Villanova on Set,” he said he wished that Villanova had such a program when he was younger.  Nonetheless, Joe took us on a journey from his early days as a staff accountant at PricewaterhouseCoopers to where he currently works at Paramount / CBS TV Studios.

The fact that an executive at Joe’s level had two hours to spend with our group, boggled my mind – he truly cared about us and mentored us in a short period of time as if he was having a conversation with his son.  In our conversations, Joe was very personable, took initiative to move around the table so he could meet each student, and engaged in conversations which could help answer questions we had.

Prior to meeting Joe, we had met a handful of Hollywood executives from different companies and there was a consistent pattern of success coupled to a “24/7/365” work ethic.  Those who spend day and night in their office, on set, in meetings, or on call with the word “vacation” being obsolete from their dictionary seemed to be successful and were at the top ranks of their companies.  Curious to see how Joe managed to be successful while spending time with his family and doing things he enjoys outside of work, Joe remarked that he believes work can also be regimented so you do not have to work around the clock.  While his mind does not completely waver away from his work, he has his trigger on the pulse in case there was an urgent need for him.  With the ability to stay connected via the Internet, cell phones, etc. Joe does not believe one needs to be restricted to staying in the office all day and has been able to use these tools as part of his strategy to maintain work-life-family balance.

It does not come as a surprise that Villanova as an Augustinian University has a commitment to the ideals of truth, unity, and love.  Closely connected, Joe’s sense of togetherness, community and family with roots embedded into Villanova truly show how he genuinely cares for the future of students from his alma mater.  More important than talking about the values, he lives these ideals even many years after graduating.